The global impact of GTMO prison

Source CBC.

In a recent press conference held in Washington, the Chinese vice president,  Xi Jinping, said “Of course in human rights situation there is always a room for enhancement”. He, of course, is right. But the expression on the secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s face at that moment was that of helplessness. You can almost tell what kind of argument the two just had about the human rights situation in China.

To watch America standing helpless in front of all the human rights violations committed by the Chinese government is, of course, understandable. China is emerging as undeniable super power, and will become the world’s biggest economy in three years. The whole world’s recovery of this financial crisis depends heavily on China’s cooperation, and the US cannot afford to upset China at this time.
America’s new found helplessness however is not only in relations to China. This comes to light when we examine another situation. Let’s take Kuwait for example, the tiny oil monarchy in the north of Persian Gulf that owes its liberation to a coalition led by the US in 1990. In 2010 a report by the US state department criticized the country’s record of human rights, mainly in regard to foreign workers and stateless people. The response came from the speaker of the parliament, Jassem Al-Khrafi, who said “those who have glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at others; America should pay attention to its own human rights violations in Guantanamo first before preaching other countries”.

These are merely two instances that I became, by coincidence, familiar with. One can only imagine how many countries around the world are giving the US similar responses.

As it stands now, the United States have completely lost its ability to influence human rights situation even in the smallest countries around the world. Diplomacy is no longer available as a tool for pressure to enhance human rights situation in other countries because the United States itself is dirty-handed now. Having detained people and tortured them for more than a decade deprived the US of the privilege to demand human rights in other parts of the world. The only way it can make tangible change now is to use force, which again, is not something it can afford to do.

In addition to being one of the biggest violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in history, the GTMO detention facility, and all the procedures that are associated with it, is having a continuous negative impact on human rights situation around the globe.

This prison didn’t only silence the US about human rights violations in other places, but it has also encouraged other regimes to violate human rights, even those who were not very keen to do that in the past.  Many countries now use the same excuse as the United States to carry out their offenses against opposition. The US has established the tradition according to which it is fine to abuse people, prosecute them, torture them, and hold them imprisoned for decades without trial if this is classified under “war on terror”. It is now very easy to do that; any one can mark anyone as terrorist and violate all of his rights as much as they want.

Even the Syrian regime is using this justification in its crackdown against its people.

The US’ role changed from the guardian of human rights to the “Justification inventor” for violating them; all because many people in America are too afraid to be fair with the people that they think they might be their “enemies”.

People of the United States need to rise up to their responsibility. They need to realize that by subjecting those few hundred men in Guantanamo to injustice, they are jeopardizing the rights of many more people around the world. They need to go back to sanity, and not allow their fear to blind them. They need to stop being the nation that invents justifications to violate human rights and truly assume the role of human rights defender.

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